On October 3rd, Bel Brands USA, a subsidiary of the Paris-based cheese producer Bel Group, held the official ribbon cutting ceremony for its third cheese production facility in America. Brookings, South Dakota is the strategic home to this production center, the construction for which began in 2012 due to an increasing demand for Mini Babybel cheeses in the United States. Bel Brands USA will make its products from locally sourced ingredients as well as recruit workers from the area. By the end of the year, they expect to employ 250 personnel at this facility and produce 20 million pounds of cheese annually by the end of 2014.
Bel Group is a family-owned French company founded in 1865 responsible for well-known brands of cheeses “The Laughing Cow”, “Babybel,” “Boursin” and “Kiri.” Today, they operate in more than 120 countries and are known for their individually packaged products and iconic red cow trademark. The opening ceremony that took place on October 3th celebrates a new venture for Bel Groupe, meeting the high American demand for their products.
The site of the new 170,000 square-foot production facility spans 48 acres and was specifically chosen for strategic access to the dairy industry of South Dakota, which will be used to make 1.5 million Mini Babybels every day. Such a production will have significant positive impacts on the local South Dakotan agricultural industry; the 500,000 pounds of milk used every day will all be sourced from local dairy co-ops. In addition to their contributions to local agriculture, Bel Brands USA demonstrated its commitment its surroundings by working with South Dakota State University and the South Dakota Labor department to hire qualified local staff. When operating at full capacity at the end of this year, this facility will employ 250 people.
Christophe Malvezin, Agricultural counselor at the Embassy of France in Washington, D.C., was invited to represent France and the promotion of Franco-American agro-business partnership at the opening ceremony on October 3rd.